Spring has sprung! We hope you’re as excited as we are! For many, spring brings on the desire for change and an out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new mentality. Maybe it’s time to freshen up your look (a new haircut perhaps), your space (some feng shui maybe), or it’s possible your event format (2-day conferences can get old fast). In this two-part series we’ll help you be thoughtful about everything that goes into spicing up your event format from things to consider before making changes, to testing changes, to how to tell how effective your changes have been without alienating your audience. Sometimes, a little change is nice. Here are some things to consider when thinking about updating your event format.
Time and Attendee Experience
Something to consider when thinking about updating your event format is time. How long has your event been in existence? If you’ve been relying on the same structure for many years it might be time for a programming shakeup. If you have long-time event attendees the same format year over year can feel boring and uninspired. Your attendees might appreciate a new way to consume yearly content that they flock to your organization for.
On the other hand, if your attendees have been your loyal customers for years, they have certain expectations of you and your offerings. Keep in mind when updating your event format that you need to be clear about the positive changes you’re making as early and often as possible when marketing your event. The last thing you want is to catch your attendees off guard when they arrive for what was once a two-day conference but are served a two-day hands-on workshop complete with goal-setting. You don’t want anyone ever arriving unprepared and caught off guard.
It’s also important to consider how often you’re changing your event format. While it may seem like a good idea to move from a conference to a workshop to a focus on discussion groups or to something else each year until you find the “right fit,” you risk exhausting your attendees and never really gaining traction with them. At a certain point, attendees like to know what they are going to get when they sign up for your event. If nothing else, it makes it much easier to explain it to the boss when making the case to register for an event. If you’re constantly shaking your event format up there’s no way to build trust and history with your attendee; two things that keep them coming back.
Event Space and Content Delivery
When considering updating your event format both the event space and content delivery play a role in how the event should be updated and how your audience will perceive it. If your organization is contracted out in the same event space for many years it might be a great time to change up the programming to freshen up the event. But if you’ve recently changed the venue from a hotel to a funky and creative event space, maybe it’s not the best time to make a complete 180 in your programming and content delivery. Sometimes it’s best to pick one huge change and not change everything at once in order to avoid surprising your attendees so much as to turn them off and alienate them.
Identify Potential Changes
Taking time to consider changes that you want to make to your event, programming and structure, and which changes might make the most impact is crucial when updating your offerings. What are the things that you want to change? What are new things you want to offer? While it may not always make sense to make many changes at once, it might make sense to make small changes to receptions, programming or event structure as you’re able. Next, we will examine how to test new ideas that you want to implement and how you can measure effectiveness with your audience.